Everything is new at Secrets Excellence, on Mexico’s Riviera
Maya, even the palm trees.
“Si, las palmas estan nueva,” the gardener told me. “Pero
New, but beautiful. That’s a fitting description for the resort
as a whole. Opened in October, Secrets Excellence still has a new,
somewhat artificial, feel to it, but it is also one of the most
luxurious resorts in the region.
And in this case, artificial isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Driving down the dreary two-lane road that leads to Secrets, it’s a
bit of a shock to suddenly reach the gates of this immaculate
resort like stumbling on a Mayan palace in the middle of the
In this 440-room, all-suite, all-inclusive resort, guests are
certainly treated like royalty, beginning with the extra-large
rooms, which average over 600 square feet and feature a Jacuzzi
tub, four-poster bed, patio or balcony and comfortable dressing
area. The marble bathroom area is especially spacious and includes
a separate shower and toilet, double vanities with phone and sound
speaker, and the usual high-end bath products.
Room amenities are also top-notch, including satellite
television, CD/DVD player, high-speed Internet and daily-restocked
If you have clients that insist on nothing but the best, go a
step further and suggest the hotel’s Secrets Excellence Club. This
resort-within-a-resort has its own members-only area with a
separate pool and beach area, separate concierge service, free
in-room Internet and more. The ocean-view suite I was in came with
the standard Jacuzzi tub in the room, as well as a second one under
the stars on the balcony. It also had a butler’s nook a cubby hole
where my coffee and newspaper was delivered each morning before I
The rooms here are only part of what makes the resort unique,
however. While the grounds may feel new, the spa seems like it has
been there forever. It offers a unique range of treatment options,
many based on indigenous products and Mayan rituals. Chief among
these is the Temazcal, a Mayan steam lodge treatment that includes
an ancient purification ritual.
At over 18,000 square feet, the spa building is one of the
resort’s highlights. It’s located on an island in one of the pools
and features huge Roman columns decorated with two-story-tall sheer
Water is an important theme throughout the resort, and the spa
reinforces this with its 6,500-square-foot “hydrotherapy circuit.”
This treatment features an elaborate 18-step course that includes
Hammam steam rooms, cold rooms and an assortment of Jacuzzi pools
with more specialized functions than you can imagine. At times the
circuit felt like a cross between an obstacle course and a spa
amusement park. In any case, it is definitely a must-do for
Beyond the spa, the resort features various sports facilities
and amenities, including six swimming pools, a gym, scuba
instruction, snorkeling, sea kayaking, windsurfing, volleyball,
tennis, billiards and more. A clever highlight is the placement of
hammocks strung over the pools so that they hang down just to the
level of the water making for a relaxing morning spent swaying
gently in the pool.
There is also a 580-seat theater on property for special events
and nightly Las Vegas-style live shows.
When not at the spa or the beach, guests will find seven a la
carte and two buffet restaurants and nine bars to try as part of
the all-inclusive plan. Not to mention, 24-hour room service.
While I found the food adequate if not great, one of the
advantages of being only 20 minutes from Cancun is that guests can
choose to go out to dinner (and take in a bit of the famous Cancun
On the Rise
AMResorts, owner of the Secrets brand, has 11 properties in Mexico
and the Dominican Republic. This fast-growing company, which is a
member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts and Summit Hotels, also
operates the nearby Sunscape Puerto Aventuras and Dreams Cancun,
which is located right on Punta Cancun in the heart of Cancun’s
hotel zone. Apple Vacations is a partner of AMResorts and includes
their properties in Apple’s packages.
While Secrets Excellence is adults-only, the recently renovated
Sunscape Puerto Aventuras is ideal for families with a kids club,
outdoor family films (“Shrek 2” was playing the night I was there)
and cookouts on the beach that feel like a backyard barbecue.
With Secrets on one end of the luxury spectrum, Dreams in the
middle and Sunscape on the other end, AMResorts is emerging as a
force in the Latin American and Caribbean resort market, with
options for every budget.
Still, there’s no doubt that Secrets Excellence is at the top of
the company’s food chain. And just wait until the palm trees have
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Hits: Only 20 minutes from Cancun. This luxury
all-suite, all-inclusive treats guests like VIPs. Incredible spa,
with unique water treatments. Large rooms with Jacuzzi tub.
Excellence Club takes amenities up a notch.
Misses: Failed to get my wake-up call two days
in a row. Resort grounds still feel a bit new.
Be Aware: Secrets Excellence is an adults-only
resort. Families are better off trying the nearby Sunscape Puerto
Aventura. Apple Vacations is a partner of AMResorts, and includes
all of their brands in Apple’s packages (www.applevacations.com).
Plugging In: Rooms have high-speed Internet
service for a fee. Guests in the Secrets Excellence Club get free
Rates: Low season is $220-$570 per person; high
season is $320-$670.
Commission: 10 percent